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Can a Dog Owner Be Held Liable if a Pet Causes a Motorcycle Accident?

Posted on in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Campbell County motorcycle accident injury lawyer

Some dogs become excited by loud or fast-moving objects. If properly restrained, the most a dog might do when it spots a car or motorcycle passing by is bark loudly, strain at a leash, or paw at a window. However, if a dog is set loose in a yard, it may run into the road, which could lead to damage to vehicles and/or the death of the animal. A car is much bigger than a dog. It is unlikely that anyone in the car would be injured if the vehicle struck a dog. However, motorcycles are different, because the drivers are exposed. A dog of considerable size could cause a serious accident if it attempts to chase down a motorcycle. The state of Tennessee has certain laws that regulate when dogs can be off-leash, which can determine liability if the pet causes a motorcycle accident with injuries. 

Tennessee's Leash Law Explained

In the state of Tennessee, no dog is permitted to be off-leash--also called “at large”--whether on private or public property. This is to avoid injuries to a person who is not the dog’s owner, and it is also meant to keep dogs safe from automobiles on the road.

There are a few exceptions, which include police dogs and working dogs who need to be off-leash to perform their duties. Other dogs that are exempt to the leash rule include:

  • Hunting dogs that are in the middle of a hunt

  • Dogs that committed injury to a person who was on their owner’s property without permission or with the intent to engage in unlawful actions

  • Dogs that are protecting themselves or their owner from harm

  • Dogs that are being confined

  • Dogs that respond to being abused or provoked

If a dog is simply off its leash, runs into the road, and collides with a motorcycle (or car) and causes injury, the owner of the animal will be responsible for paying compensation for medical bills. The owner will also be accountable for reimbursement for any repairs the vehicle may need. This is true even if the dog is killed during the collision.

However, the driver of a motorcycle or a car can be held liable for the death of a dog if he or she does not stop after a collision to make sure the animal is okay. This falls under Tennessee’s hit and run law, which states that all parties involved in a collision must stop, check on the damages, and call the police to report the incident.

Penalties for Violating Tennessee's Leash Law

A dog's owner will not face criminal penalties if they pay compensation for all damages caused by their dog within 30 days of the incident. Otherwise, the owner can face misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the circumstances of the accident:

  • A Class C misdemeanor charge applies if the dog is seen off-leash.

  • A Class B misdemeanor charge applies if the dog causes property damage while off-leash.

  • A Class A misdemeanor charge applies if the dog causes injury to another person while off-leash. The charge can be elevated to a Class E felony if serious or permanent injury is sustained.

  • A Class F felony applies if the dog causes the death of another person while off-leash.

Contact a Jacksboro, TN Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Although it is rare to encounter animals while operating a vehicle on the roadway, it can and does happen. If you are driving a motorcycle, that could mean serious injury to yourself as well as the animal. Seeking compensation after striking an off-leash dog with your motorcycle can be a complex process. The lawyers from The Law Office of William F. Evans can help guide you to a positive outcome. To schedule a free consultation with a Campbell County personal injury lawyer, call our office today at 423-449-7980.




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